Tube Lines

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Tube Lines Limited
TypePublic Company
FateSold to Public Sector = 7 May 2010 (2010-05-07); Equity acquired by Transport for London[1]
Headquarters15 Westferry Circus, London, United Kingdom
Key people
  • Brian Sedar (Bechtel)
  • Lee Jones (Ferrovial)
  • Terry Morgan Chief Executive
Number of employees
3500 (initially)

Tube Lines Limited, initially known as 'Infraco JNP' (an amalgamation of infrastructure and company), is an asset-management company responsible for the maintenance, renewal and upgrade of the infrastructure, including track, trains, signals, civils work and stations, of three London Underground lines.

Originally a consortium of private companies, Tube Lines was one of two infrastructure companies (the other being Metronet) who entered into a public-private partnership (PPP) with London Underground in 2003.

The company has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London (TfL) since May 2010, and has now been rebranded as "London Underground".[2]


In the late 1990s, the Labour government proposed a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to reverse years of underinvestment in London Underground.[3] The Tube trains themselves would be operated by the public sector and the infrastructure (track, trains, tunnels, signals, and stations) would be leased to private firms for 30 years to allow improvements to be made.[3]

Tube Lines was founded by a consortium of Amey plc (a subsidiary of Grupo Ferrovial), Bechtel and Jarvis plc in 2000 to bid for the PPP contract.[4] In 2005, Jarvis sold its stake to fellow shareholder Amey for £147 million.[5] Tube Lines planned to subcontract work to achieve the lowest possible cost, with Metronet (the other PPP consortium) awarding contracts directly to its shareholders.[6]

Formation of the PPP[edit]

Following a two-year bidding process,[7] Metronet and Tube Lines were selected as the preferred consortiums in May 2001.[8]

In April 2003, Tube Lines began to maintain, upgrade and renewal London Underground infrastructure as part of the PPP.[9] Tube Lines had been the successful bidder for the 30 year JNP (tube) lines contract, serving the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines. A second PPP consortium, Metronet, held the other two contracts for the 9 remaining London Underground lines.[8][10]

Both Metronet and Tube Lines were colloquially referred to as "infracos".[8] Contracts were worth around £17 billion over the 30-year period, with each contract receiving around £660 million each month from the Government, with reductions if targets are not met.[10]

Commitments under the PPP[edit]

Some escalators on the London Underground have Tube Lines branding.

Under the terms of the PPP contracts, Tube Lines agreed to maintain London Underground infrastructure (track, trains, tunnels, signals, and stations) to the standards and performance levels set in the contract. Tube Lines committed to delivering substantial improvements to the network by refurbishing, upgrading and renewing track, trains, tunnels, signals and stations. To encourage high reliability, deductions suffered for poor performance were set at twice the rate of increase in revenue for improved performance.[9]

At a cost of £4.4 billion, Tube Lines promised substantial investment during the first 7.5 years of the contract (2003 to 2010):[11][12]

  • 100 stations (including lifts and escalators) modernised or refurbished
  • 42 miles (68 km) of track replaced
  • Upgrade and refurbishment of tunnels, bridges, embankments, track drainage and other civil structures
  • Reconstruction and expansion of Wembley Park station
  • Improvements to existing trains to improve reliability and reduce delays
  • Additional carriage added to 1996 Stock trains to increase capacity on the Jubilee line
  • New signalling system for the Jubilee and Northern lines
  • 93 new Piccadilly line trains, which would enter service by 2014 (cancelled following the collapse of the PPP)

Performance and criticism[edit]

In June 2004, the National Audit Office criticised the complexity of the PPP deals, noting they offered "the prospect, but not the certainty" of improvements.[13] In March 2005, the House of Commons Transport Select Committee noted that "Availability is the most important factor for Tube travellers. All the infracos needed to do to meet their availability benchmarks was to perform only a little worse than in the past. On most lines, they did not even manage that."[14] In March 2005, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, charged with ensuring value for money in public spending, published a report concluding that it was "impossible to determine" whether the PPP was better value than a publicly run investment programme.[15]

By November 2006, Metronet, the other PPP consortium, was £750 million over budget,[10] whereas Tube Lines was delivering projects on time and on budget.[16] Chief Executive of Tube Lines, Terry Morgan, noted the use of competitive procurement to minimise costs, unlike the closed shop approach of Metronet.[6] In July 2007, Metronet collapsed and was placed into administration.[17] Metronet was subsequently taken over by TfL in 2008.[18]

By 2008, Tube Lines was negotiating the next part of the 30-year contract. It noted that all of its major projects had been delivered on time (unlike the Metronet consortium), and that Underground lines it managed were now significantly more reliable - up to 70% more reliable on the Piccadilly line, for example.[19]

In 2009, Tube Lines had encountered a funding shortfall for its upgrades and requested that TfL provide an additional £1.75 billion to cover the shortfall. TfL refused, and referred the matter to the PPP arbiter, who stated that £400 million should be provided.[20][21] Tube Lines was also criticised over the number of weekend and late night closures required to upgrade the Jubilee line signalling system.[22]

Takeover by TfL[edit]

On 7 May 2010, Transport for London agreed to buy out Bechtel and Amey (Ferrovial), the shareholders of Tube Lines for £310 million, formally ending the PPP.[1][23][24] Commentators blamed the complex and "onerous" contracts for its failure.[25] Combined with the takeover of Metronet, this meant that all maintenance was thereafter managed in-house, despite TfL using a large number of private suppliers and contractors.[1] Some of the improvements promised by Tube Lines were subsequently delivered (such as new signalling on the Northern line), while other improvements were subsequently cancelled or delayed.

Amey continued to provide TfL with management and maintenance services for the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines until the end of 2017, when London Underground Limited took over from Amey.[2][26] Tube Lines itself now been rebranded as "London Underground".[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Tube maintenance back 'in house' as new deal is signed". BBC News. 8 May 2010. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Waboso, David (December 2010). "Transforming the tube". Modern Railways. London. p. 42.
  3. ^ a b "New blow to Tube sell-off plan". BBC News. 16 December 2000. Retrieved 7 March 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ "Tube Lines - About Tubelines - Our Sponsors". Tube Lines. 9 April 2003. Archived from the original on 9 April 2003. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  5. ^ "Aquisition [sic] of Jarvis's Interest in Tube Lines Complete" (Press release). Amey. 31 January 2005.
  6. ^ a b Milmo, Dan (28 May 2007). "London tube work - one firm on budget; the other £750m over". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  7. ^ Baldock, Hannah (9 February 2001). "Getting the Tube to work". Building. Retrieved 7 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ a b c Kiley, Bob (12 October 2001). "Bob Kiley: Trouble down the line". the Guardian. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  9. ^ a b "Final stamp on Tube PPP deal". BBC News. 4 April 2003. Retrieved 7 March 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ a b c "Metronet shareholders face £750m bill for London Underground failures". the Guardian. 17 November 2006. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  11. ^ "Details of Tube modernisation plans unveiled". Tube Lines. 8 January 2003. Archived from the original on 19 May 2006. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  12. ^ "Tube Lines Corporate Review 2004/5" (PDF). Tube Lines. March 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 May 2006. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  13. ^ "London Underground PPP: Were they good deals? - National Audit Office (NAO) Report". National Audit Office. June 2004. Retrieved 7 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ "The Performance of the London Underground" (PDF). House of Commons Transport Committee. 9 March 2005. p. 9.
  15. ^ "London Underground Public Private Partnerships" (PDF). House of Commons Public Accounts Committee. 9 March 2005. p. 9.
  16. ^ Partnership that turned sour, The Times, 27 June 2007
  17. ^ "Metronet calls in administrators". BBC News. 18 July 2007. Retrieved 7 March 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ "Metronet's takeover is complete". BBC News. 27 May 2008. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
  19. ^ "Tube Lines - Tube Lines is committed to improving performance and delivering projects on time". Tube Lines. 27 March 2010. Archived from the original on 8 March 2021. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  20. ^ "Mayor wants government Tube money". BBC News. 7 December 2009. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
  21. ^ "London Underground's PPP overhaul deal edges nearer collapse after funding verdict". the Guardian. 18 December 2009. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  22. ^ "Jubilee Line faces more closures". BBC News. 24 November 2009. Retrieved 8 March 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  23. ^ "Amey sells its stake in Tube Lines to Transport for London (TfL) and agrees to continue with the maintenance service". Ferrovial. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  24. ^ "New era for the Tube as Transport for London completes acquisition of Tube Lines". Transport for London. 27 June 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  25. ^ "Tube Lines deal collapses amid cost accusations and fears for future work". Construction Manager. 14 May 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  26. ^ "Moving Tube maintenance in-house to save £80m, as Mayor targets waste". London City Hall. Retrieved 3 October 2017.

External links[edit]